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Red Dog: True Blue

Based on Louis de Bernieres’ novel, ‘Red Dog’ became a big hit in 2011. The story of a cattle dog assisting residents in the Australian outback captured audiences’ imaginations. It also proved you could have a local genre hit for all ages instead of the usually over-praised and quickly forgotten dramas usually churned out. ‘Red Dog: True Blue’ is a prequel charting the canine’s origins. Maintaining the original’s appeal, it goes some way in showing the talent and creativity in Australian production.

Sent to live with his grandfather (Bryan Brown), 11 year old Mick (Levi Miller) thinks life will be dull. Arriving on a remote Western Australian cattle station, Mick braces for nothing much too happen on a grand scale. That’s before he meets a young red dog. Discovering an assortment of characters in the small town, the human and canine duo embark on a series of adventures changing Mick’s life forever.

‘Red Dog: True Blue’ is a typical coming of age story. We’ve seen it all before where a young teen discovers the ways of life and learns to mature. This alone should make ‘Red Dog: True Blue’ an insipidly dull yarn. Due to an abundance of genuine charm, stunning cinematography and solid acting, none of that materialises. Within its brisk 90 minutes is an assortment of relatable characters and situations. Investing in these plights is easy as Kriv Stenders’ direction moves the plot along at an amiably brisk pace.

Miller, Brown and the rest of the cast are excellent as is the talented doggie playing the title role. The script wisely doesn’t pander to young audiences and is one all can enjoy. The striking photography of the outback is superb, highlighting the harsh dangers and beauty the land brings. The unobtrusive music score aids in developing the emotional core driving the film. All come together in an engaging package becoming a worthy successor to the original movie.

Often moving, enchanting and enjoyable, ‘Red Dog: True Blue’ is worth seeing. Australian film and television has recently begun getting out of its dramatic rut and exploring new genre horizons. Hopefully this continues with productions like these effectively utilising the local landscape to tell different and exciting new stories.

Rating out of 10: 7

Allied

The 1940’s saw a plethora of war-time espionage movies enthralling audiences with Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ and ‘Lifeboat’ being two examples. Drawing on human conditions of trust and innuendo, those films played on viewer’s fears of ‘war spies on every corner’. Whilst not as well-crafted as Hitchcock’s films, ‘Allied’ carves its own niche. Using a romantic angle to present a tale, the spectre of suspicion casts doubt on a couple’s strong bond.

While working for Canadian Intelligence in North Africa in 1942, officer Max (Brad Pitt) meets French resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Gotillard). Falling in love, getting married and having a child, their union seems strong. Their idyll is shattered when agents suggest to Max his wife may be a double agent. Ordered to kill his bride or face the firing squad, Max is put into an awkward situation. Convinced she is being framed, Max goes to extreme lengths to protect his wife.

‘Allied’ is an old-fashioned Hollywood film. That isn’t a bad thing considering how quickly paced films are these days. ‘Allied’ takes time to develop Max and Marianne’s romance and allows the story to fully ‘breathe’. Whilst moments are slow, overall ‘Allied’ asks the viewer to fully invest in its characters and story. This is done well due to Robert Zemeckis’ strong direction which never once falters in its quest to craft a glamorous romantic thriller.

Zemeckis clearly strives for a 1940’s feel in atmosphere and visuals. The cinematography and music score are suitably lush and vibrant with both successfully conjuring World War 2’s constant danger and mystery. Pitt and Gotillard project the right amount of chemistry to make for a believable couple. You are never sure where the story will go but can easily follow the journey via their stoic performances.

‘Allied’ should appeal to those tired of endless fast and furiously moving films. It’s a rarely made classic old-style movie providing an oasis in a sea of commercial block-busters. It isn’t always perfect but is a solid small-time epic sure to please lovers of classic-like cinema.

Rating out of 10: 7